“Insider dope” and NBA trade coverage: A case study on unnamed sourcing in sport journalism

Sada Reed, Guy Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Past research has examined the use of anonymous sources in news content and its impact on perceived credibility. Studies applying these theories in the context of sport media consumption, however, are scant and outdated. This matters because sport media is consumed for different reasons from news and has a historically symbiotic relationship with the people and events it covers. The current case study explores sources in National Basketball Association (NBA) trade stories in both national news and sport-specific publications. The study found that about 82% of trade speculation was not credited to a source. Unnamed and named sources’ trade predictions were cross-referenced with the NBA transaction log to determine if the trades actually manifested before the trade deadline. Neither sources predicted trades well: Of the 95 unsourced, speculated trades, 14 actually took place. Of the 20 sourced speculations, four took place. There was no statistically significant difference between how well named and unnamed sources predicted trades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Attribution
  • Content analysis
  • National Basketball Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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